I wanted to show my son’s activities during the COVID-19 quarantine. And for some time now I’ve wanted to create an image with multiple exposures. Why not combine the two projects? Here’s the result:

Quarantining. April 19, 2020

There are many ways to do this. This is the approach I followed.

Taking photos

  • Choose the location and the subject. Make a list of shots.
  • Prepare all props – you don’t want to run around looking for things after starting to shoot, especially if you are using natural light – clouds and sun move and you want everything in the frame to stay exactly the same except for your subject!
  • Put the camera on a tripod.
  • This is optional, but to minimize camera movement from shot to shot it’s best to use a remote shutter release or a phone app, if your camera has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. Self-timer is a great alternative. I would recommend the 10sec option.
  • Wide angle lens would probably be your best choice to allow subject separation – if the subjects overlap it will take longer to create the composite image.
  • Look into the viewfinder and decide where exactly to put the subject in every shot to avoid overlap.
  • Camera settings – manual exposure! Aperture, shutter speed, ISO. You don’t want the camera to make any changes from shot to shot. The only thing that should change is focus.
  • Focusing. Use controls that are least likely to move the camera. I used the Canon phone app to control the camera (EOS M50). It allowed me to focus simply by touching the image of the viewfinder on the phone screen. Ain’t technology great?
  • Take a couple of test shots. If everything looks good, go ahead with your shot list.
  • If you are using relatively wide aperture (e.g. to minimize subject’s movement), the background may come out too blurry. You may want to take one shot without the subject and use a smaller aperture and longer exposure time, so the resulting exposure doesn’t change compared to the other shots.

Editing

  • Transfer images to the computer.
  • Load them into your favorite photo editor that supports layers. I used Photoshop Elements 14.
  • Select one of the images, create layers for the remaining images and copy/paste each one into its layer. Let’s number them 1, 2, 3, etc starting from the bottom. This make take a while, so save your work from time to time!
  • Turn off visibility of all layers except for the bottom two.
  • If you’ve taken a background only shot, use it as the bottom image.
  • Activate layer 2. Pick the eraser tool and erase everything except for the subject – you will now see the layer 1 plus the subject from the layer 2 on top of it.
  • Activate layer 3 and repeat the previous step – you will now have 3 subjects.
  • Complete the erasing step for all layers. Remember to save!
    A useful alternative to the eraser tool is the layer mask and black brush. Adding a mask and painting it with a black brush is the same as erasing. But if you make a mistake and erase too much you can use white brush to undo the damage.
    If your subjects do overlap, you may need to zoom in and use appropriate selection tools to carefully select the subject so the rest of the image can be safely erased.
  • Merge layers.
  • Do various adjustments (crop, levels, white balance, etc).
  • Save full size/highest quality (for prints, etc).
  • Resize for web/computer screen, save.

If any of the steps above are not clear check out some of the many detailed tutorials on Youtube, etc.
One example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Md7fFbq50A

Thanks for reading and good luck!